By Kyle Herda
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
PARIS, France – An incident outside of a bar in Lille, France this week turned ugly fairly quickly and resulted in riot police firing tear gas into the crowd. The dispute between police and fans of Lille and Everton, in anticipation of a Europa league match resulted in at least two fans being hospitalized.
While the cause of the altercations is still unclear, reports seem to suggest that a misunderstanding is to blame. Claims are that an officer in plain clothing was attempting to arrest an Everton supporter for “misbehaving” at a bar in Lille. Other Everton fans inside the bar did not realize it was an officer and mistook the arrest to be a Lille fan harassing the Everton fan. The Everton fans confronted the officer, things quickly escalated, and soon riot police showed up, aggressively pushed the crowd that gathered, used tear gas bombs, pepper spray, and shot rubber bullets.
There are also reports that a crowd of “hooligans” provoked Everton fans, and that this was the cause of the riot. These claims further that the Lille fans were to blame, and that riot police who responded attacked the Everton fans who were injured and in need of help. One witness claims to have seen riot police “spray one Everton fan for no reason.” Another witness claims “[t]he hooligans picked up chairs we had stacked up outside and attacked them, while others used them to smash windows and try to get inside.’
The Everton club released a statement that they will be working “closely with the French and Merseyside police … to better understand the two isolated but serious incidents that occurred in Lille”. While events died down relatively quickly, everybody was urged to avoid the square where the riots occurred due to the lingering gas used by the riot police
For more information, please see:
Fox – Police use tear gas against Everton fans ahead of match in Lille – 23 October 2014
Sky Sports – Europa League: Trouble flares in Lille ahead of Everton’s Group H game – 23 October 2014
SB Nation – Scary scene in Lille as police clash with Everton fans – 23 October 2014